I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.


    ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:07 pm

    The pale haired boy haunted the doorway like a lost spirit. The lantern continued to rattle softly within his trembling grasp, despite the urchin’s best efforts to subdue it. At the vampire’s words, he lifted his sharp grey eyes, and turned his head to look at him with fearful intensity.

    After he had spoken, the boy was initially quiet, thoughtful. Then something within him seemed to unpluck, loosening like a string pulled too taut.

    “I have not angered you?”  The boy enquired softly, his voice little above a strained rasp. He released a low, shuddery breath of air.

    The hand that wielded the lantern lowered to the urchin’s side, and he continued to approach hesitantly, his fingers sliding along the edge of the table. Despite his wariness, the boy did not appear distrustful of the vampire, quite the opposite. And with his host’s gentle encouragement, he moved closer still, before finally slipping awkwardly into a chair at his side.

    “I... d’accord. If you wish, Monsieur.”

    The youth set the lantern before him on the table, and hoisted one knee up towards his chest. His fingers were reluctant to abandon Colombe’s light, and one palm cupped the warm edge of the metal base. Now they were closer, the boy dared not meet the vampire’s sightless gaze at first.  He kept his eyes upon the flame, observing the comforting glow and swirl of the golden light. Its brilliance caught the tangled strands of his hair, illuminating the fine fibres like fire through a wheat field.

    His host’s words caught the boy’s attention, and his eyes began to drift along the length of the table. His gaze move upwards, over the vampire’s arm, his neck, his mouth, before meeting the pale blind eyes. It was a bold inspection, and no doubt it would have been far less confrontational had the vampire not been blind. The urchin examined him in silence, his body tense with fascination and fingers tight upon the lantern’s base.

    He had not studied his host in this way before, not with such meticulous interest. It was as if in this moment, he was looking upon him for the first time. He wondered how he had not noticed the strange gleam in his eyes. How he had so foolishly accompanied him here, when he could so easily have vanished into the streets. Simply melted into the shadows like fog, like nothingness.

    Before he had time to fully contemplate his actions, words were already slipping freely from his lips.

    “Why do you keep me here?”
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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:00 pm

    Tariq’s posture softened when the boy took his place at the table beside him. He sat loosely, one arm crossed in front of him. His night-pale eyes returned the boy’s silent inspection with a sightless gaze that did not waver, like the surface of a still pond illuminated silver by the moon.

    His shirt was fresh and the ghoulish splash of black blood no longer marred his collar. Instead, the dusky skin below his throat was bare. It exposed the silvery glint of his hoarfrost scar. He had unbound his hair and it fell in wisps of white over his shoulders like the curling edges of paper.

    He considered Fabien’s question in a delicate silence.

    "You are so young," he said at last, his voice soft. "That I can hardly fathom it. Non, you have not angered me. You would not have to ask if you had.”

    He inclined his head in a curiously animal gesture. There was something contemplative in the way he regarded his guest. “In truth, I would prefer that you spoke freely to me. Although I hope-” he amended, his sharp teeth catching the light. “That you do not need to be reminded to remember proper decorum in my presence.”

    His lips split in a smile at the boy’s second question, the clean ivory of his teeth nearly glowing in the shadows that gathered in the room. "You certainly recover from your fear quick enough," he said wryly.

    He leaned forward over the table, the ends of his hair dragging serpentine along it. “Hard as it may be to swallow, my answer has not changed. It does not concern you, not yet. You would not understand even if I could tell you. I may as well try to explain what it was like to die, or what it is to drink a person’s life with your eyeteeth.”

    His ghostly gaze remained on the boy. His voice was soft, the rhythm of it gently soothing.

    "Let it be, Fabien. Trust that it pleases me to keep you. Do as I bid. Until I have reason I will not hurt you. If I wanted you dead, it would be your body cooling in that room.”

    The vampire lapsed into a thick silence. His long fingers drummed lightly against the top of the table in time with whatever thoughts stirred the dust in his head. When he resumed the thread of his speech his voice was gravelly, rasping softly in the back of his throat.

    “I did not know he was one of yours. He approached me, and I accepted his invitation because I must eat. Had I known, I would not have brought him here.”

    At no point did the words stray into an apology, but something not entirely unlike empathy stirred murky and deep beneath them.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Sat Oct 01, 2016 3:30 pm


    Fabien’s disappointment was almost palpable, clinging electric on the air around his head. Though the vampire could not see his expression change, it was there all the same, buried in the sharp shifting of his uneasy limbs. He had so eagerly awaited the vampire’s response, his features momentarily luminous with curiosity.

    The boy clenched his jaw, and began to slowly turn the lantern about within his agile fingers. But despite his clear displeasure, he did not become sullen or withdrawn. Neither was he entirely deterred. He continued to rotate the lamp, casting patterns of fluttering light across the walls like embers from a bonfire.

    “Then it may change sometime? You may tell me... one day?” He pressed softly, and sped a sideways glance back towards the vampire.

    Something in his host’s words suddenly stilled the boy’s hands. He turned upon his chair, lured towards the vampire as if by an invisible thread. His feline eyes were once again vibrant with fascination, and the youthful rise of lips parted as though a thousand questions begged to slip from them. But there was a barrier, a blockage that tightened and bound the boy’s tongue. He was silent. He said nothing.

    It was only the mention of his dead companion that coaxed words from him. The urchin looked aside once again, and seemed to draw his attention away from those strange, pale eyes. Away from the whisper of a scar just visible at the vampire’s neck. The glint of his teeth, too large and unnatural. He merely shrugged loosely, causing the material of his shirt to slip from one bony shoulder.

    “He had been courting death a long time.” He murmured softly. There was hard glimmer of frost over his words, something sharp the edges. As though a bitter taste still lingered on his tongue, and he was now reminded of it.

    “If not you as executioner, then la guillotine in the public square. Or an illness, or rotting in the gaol.”

    “He had few cards left to play.”

    The boy fell quiet and traced the edge of the table with two of his fingers.

    I hope they do not struggle without me.” He breathed, and then appeared suddenly startled by his own the words. As if he had not intended to speak such a thing, and wasn’t quite sure why he had.

    He allowed further quiet to lapse between them, while his fingers still toyed with the edge of the table, constantly in search of some new activity. It seemed they were never content to be still and idle, those hands.

    “I am not dense, Monsieur.” He said suddenly, his words precise and full of a youthful wilfulness. There was something defensive in them, which suggest that perhaps he had received a cut in his pride and needed to correct it.

    “I may not have received much... by way of books and learning, but I can conceive of things.”

    “And... and I would try to understand.”

    The pale haired urchin sat upright in his chair, and lowered his other foot to the floor. He turned his entire body towards the vampire, spine straight, one arm angled upon the table. Despite the feigned confidence of this posture, the words that left his tongue still held nervous hesitation. He was unsure; it seemed, of where his host’s boundaries lay. But he sought them out all the time, feeling with the sharp prick of a claw.

    “Do you remember still Monsieur, how it felt to die?”

    “Was it... was it so very long ago?”
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Oct 02, 2016 7:00 pm

    Even lax as he was the vampire maintained an air of quiet regality. He fixedly kept his blind gaze on the boy beside him. His posture was one of rapt attention. It was difficult to read the moods of his face but most of his ill-spirit appeared to have evaporated to be replaced by an interest that was not entirely wholesome.

    “I will tell you,” he agreed. “One day.”

    He remained quiet and still as the boy spoke of his dead companion. It was not an exoneration, but some of the remaining tension between them seemed to bleed from the room at his words, until the flicker of Fabien’s lantern in the thin dark seemed a welcoming warmth. He lifted his head at the boy’s unexpected announcement.

    "Were you the provider for many?” He did not emphasize the past tense in the question but it still protruded from his words like a stone jutting from a path.

    A flicker of humour sparked across his features at the youth’s defensive protest. "You are very young," he said again. "I do not believe you are stupid. Although I am willing to be proved to the contrary.” There was no venom in the statement, only the same wry amusement that had dusted his speech previously.

    He stilled at the urchin’s final soft question. It was uncanny how motionless he could become, a carved statue with moonstones for eyes.

    "It was very long ago," he said finally. "Memory, time, they do not follow the neat lines you suppose they do. But yes, I remember how it felt to die.”

    He lapsed into silence after this. It stretched on so long that it seemed it was all he had to say. However, the boy would be rewarded for his patience when he continued with a soft sigh of breath.

    "It is perhaps what I remember best about living. All things that are born must die, they are made for short lives. And what lives they are. I cannot remember what it was like to stumble through the world, thinking myself master of my own destiny when I was at the mercy of fashion, fate, my own fragility. Execution or illness or imprisonment, as you say. I lack the imagination to remember all the ways one could suffer."

    He straightened in his chair. His cloudy eyes were hazy and thoughtful. When he saw that he still held his guest’s interest he resumed speaking softly, the words precise on his tongue.

    “Dying was a different affair then. Your god did not exist, or if he did he was only an infant, insignificant and unknown. The boundaries were not so fixed. The sun died in the sky but returned to life to drive the dark away, the crops withered in the field but bloomed again with coaxing, and it was not so uncommon to commune with the familiar dead long after their bones were reduced to ash. There were the unfamiliar dead too, who stole babes from the cradle or lusted after the blood of the living.”

    A glimmer of humour revealed the white of his teeth at this. Somewhere deep in the house, something thudded heavily to the floor. It did not interrupt his narrative.

    “It was perhaps not so great a shock as it ought to have been to find myself… returned. Like taking your first breath after being submerged under water, deaf for the rushing in your ears, your lungs heavy with water.” He considered this image for a moment. “It is not an easy thing to explain, like being asked to describe your own birth. It is the last true pain I ever knew.”
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:05 pm

    Fabien reluctantly accepted his host’s words, though it clearly displeased him. But the urchin did not dwell on the subject further. Instead, at the vampire’s question, he stirred upon his chair and slipped his palm along back of his skull, the curve of his neck.

    “Ah, non. Well... for some perhaps.”

    The boy lapsed into a thoughtful stillness before he produced an answer. A look of concern, guilt perhaps, passed over his eyes, darkening his expression like ink across a crisp page. It seemed as though his absence, his responsibilities were making their presence felt like a stone weighted upon his heart. He lowered his hand toward his mouth, and applied a finger to the curve of his lips

    “Some more than others.” He added softly, and continued to caress his lower lip.

    But it was so easily swept aside, the vision of his vulnerable and sweet companions. Even worse was the thought of their struggles, their suffering and distress. He had barely considered it since arriving here, whether they were searching for him. For all he knew, they were out there now, their shadows passing over the Seine. Perhaps they were gathered together with lamps, seeking the still waters for his pale and bloated body.

    He did not wish to think on it, and it was especially to find a distraction when his host spoke in this way, with his stillness, his voice. The boy was slowly entranced; he could not fight against it. He felt his muscle tighten with interest, his body incline forward. He studied the vampire breathlessly, his fingers still toying with the corner of his mouth.

    Trop court, et laid.” There was a fierce hiss of approval in his voice.

    “A time before God? But where was this place? Not in Paris, you do not look like... sound like... -” He pinched the flesh of his lip between his thumb and finger.“-A Parisian.”

    The soft thud from another part of house snagged the boy’s attention like a hook. He glanced over his sharp shoulder, back toward the near impenetrable darkness that lay beyond the door. When he returned his grey eyes to the vampire, there was deep pity within them.


    How then how did you die, Monsieur?” He continued to enquire softly.

    “You said you- ... when we spoke before. You said it pleased you to be this way, non?”

    “Un paradis.”

    “But that boy back there, his life-“

    Suddenly Colombe’s drawing presented itself before him, as clear and terrible as any nightmarish vision.  Those trees, those crosses again, marked one after the other. The youth glanced down toward his chest, and pressed his other hand against where the scrap of paper was nestled against his skin.

    “How does it not disturb you to kill so many? It is not vile to... drink blood?  And must it always be blood, only blood?”
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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:19 pm

    Tariq seemed to sense the boy’s unwillingness to linger on the topic of his unwillingly abandoned comrades and did not encroach on it any further. He merely inclined his head, his hair whispering like spider's silk down his shoulders, and allowed him to continue.

    “Non,” he agreed with a ripple of laughter. “I am not of your barbarous city, nor of its people. I have only been here a short time. I am from, ah. A place that does not exist anymore, at least not as it did. It was within the Imperium Romanum, ruled by the Senatus Populusque Romanus.” The words rolled from his tongue without the clipped accent that defined the rest of his speech. “But I do not know if it is right to say that it is where I come from. I spent many years in Anatolia, though it followed the customs of Roma at the time, and Arabia, and many other places besides.”

    He had gotten caught up in this explanation and now paused and fixed the boy with a blank look from blind eyes. “I do not know how they call themselves now, or what you would understand. But that is how it was when I knew it.”

    Fabien’s follow-up question had an immediate effect on the vampire. The calm humour in his face was snuffed out like a candle, and his features darkened. The air between them grew heavy and black, as though the shadows were making an attempt at strangling the life from the fire that sent its orange light wheeling through the gloom.

    “Mind yourself, Fabien. You ask after matters that are not easily put into words,” he said after a long silence. His cloudy eyes had fallen away from the pretense of sight and it gave him a vaguely pensive air.

    “But,” he added delicately. Some effort of restraint quivered gently in his tone. “I have asked that you speak freely and I will not rebuke you for it.”

    Another silence pressed on them as his host mulled over his words. He shifted in his chair and crossed his long legs at the ankle, his posture becoming more of a sprawl, his seat becoming more of a makeshift throne.

    “I died… non, ce n'est pas correct. I was killed.” He turned his head and his eyes flashed like beaten silver in the trembling candlelight. “Twice, really. First as a routine exertion of war and then, as I was dying, as an act of mercy. I was returned because those with the power to save what they love will always choose to do so.”

    The fingers of one hand had lain flat on the surface of the table. Now they twitched as though eager to reach out and the vampire moved to steeple his hands together before him.

    “I am not like you. I have not gained something that can be taken from me. What I am is not like you only stronger or keener or more cunning. I am those things, but I am something entirely different altogether. And yes, it pleases me very much to be what I am.”

    He was warming to this narrative and his voice strengthened as he went on, grew richer and more sure in his mouth.  

    “How could it not? To have escaped the short, ugly life they – you – must suffer through. As I said before, there are no prisons that can bind me, no illness that can ravage me. I know joy and fulfillment, but not any real pain, nothing like how it was… before. It is a paradise.”

    His mirth was returning to him. His teeth flashed as he spoke, his eyes distant and unfocused. They had slipped from his guest during his speech.

    “The blood is-- there is no way to describe it to you, nothing you could understand. It is not like eating an apple, or drinking water, and they would sicken me if I were to try. Those are pale reflections of what it is to really consume, to take the hot blood and the life that accompanies it.” His pupils had swelled to liquid wells of black ink as he contemplated these images. When he turned his eyes back to the boy his blind gaze was like that of a hungry cat, his features rapacious and sharp for all the delicacy of his words. “It is ecstasy.” His voice was so soft as to nearly be a hiss. “It is rapture. It is perfect satisfaction.”

    The vampire shook his head and ran his tongue over pointed teeth. He inhaled, the sound of it ragged around its edges, and the dark of his eyes began to recede. His smile was still entirely too sharp when he resumed.  

    “I kill so many,” he agreed. “But I do not agonize for it. I have taken at least one of your companions, but how many more have you lost to neglect, greed? I do not take life out of avarice. I take out of need.”

    He paused, whether to assure he still had the boy’s attention or to collect his words, before continuing.

    “I am a hunter. It is fair, perhaps, for deer to balk at the cruelty of wolves that they must hunt them, but their arguments are of little interest to the wolves. They must kill to eat, and so must I. It is really so simple.”

    “Besides, it is a finer death than many are allowed, to die between my teeth. And I enjoy it. It pleases me to kill. Better to sate me than to die wracked and twisted with pox or plague, or senseless in the street, oui?”
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:06 pm

    Fabien’s slender limbs fell completely motionlessly, and soon his breath was shivering past his teeth.  The youth scrutinised the vampire’s features as he spoke. He lingered with fascination upon the ruddy lips which formed such words. Words which at times were faintly familiar, but others seemed much too strange, far beyond his recognition to be understood. Despite his disadvantages, the boy seemed to have grasped at something in the vampire’s explanation. And his eyes became increasingly wide with wonder. “Rome? Italie?”

    The urchin rose up a little, and dared to slip his chair forward an inch or so.

    “I have seen in plays, the stories of the Roman Emperors. But, Saint-Christ. That was centuries ago, Monsieur.” He breathed in wonder, his voice practically glowing with child-like delight.

    “Now the students and the lawyers are all a stir with such talk. La République. The Horatii.”  The boy’s supple fingers gestured into the air as he spoke.

    “We are all to be citizens again, like those days, if they succeed.”

    He paused for a time, and his grey eyes and pointed features turned sly and fox-like.

    “Perhaps even equals.” The boy murmured pointedly.

    Through his constant movement and ceaselessly agitation, the boy had closed the space between them. He had edged in so slowly, so carefully, until their feet were near to touching. It was only the vampire’s clear displeasure that made him notice the angle of his body.  Then he was suddenly, painfully aware of how the fingers of his hand were clenched, and how the other almost seemed to reach forward. A spark of unease crackled through his nerves, down the length of his spine, and he swallowed heavily.

    As the vampire continued to speak, the youth’s attentiveness was easily recaptured. His lips began to part, and his expression became one of such longing. He slipped his restless fingers beneath his thigh, and reclined upon the edge of his seat. There was no escaping his enthrallment.  It made him shiver to think on, a life where no doors could be barred, a life without the fear of entrapment and pain. The boy could feel the fine hairs upon his skin rise, and every exhale was tinged with something deep, almost like a sigh.

    Liberté,” he breathed softly, and then lowered his head self-consciously.

    “Those are indeed ugly ways to die.”

    It was only the talk of killing, of feasting on blood that eased him from his fervour.  Finally he was encouraged back into the kitchen, back into his own flesh and his own thoughts. He began to sweep his fingers through his hair once more, as though seeking himself within those erratic strands.

    “It does not sound such a bad way to exist.”

    The urchin turned his eyes back towards the friendly glow of Colombe’s lantern. He reached for it fondly, and slipped his hand over the worn handle. Beads of light caught upon the curve of his cheek like dew.  

    “But I am sure that demons too delight in hell. That they find pleasure in the flames.”

    The boy’s eyes did not depart rom the vampire for long. This time, the look was harder, more firm than it had been before.

    “And I am still not certain whether you are blessed or cursed.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:40 pm

    The lamp that had been kindled to fight the darkness had begun to sputter during the vampire’s soft speech. Now it burned dim and low and the shadows crept in close with eager, sooty fingers. The glow of the lantern in the boy’s hands seemed to draw strength from the encroaching dark, the crawling beads of flame searing the walls with specks of trembling gold.

    The boy had hardly finished his pointed statement before the vampire interjected with a sharp hiss of breath.

    "Do you suppose we are equals, Fabien?"

    His ghastly pale eyes were fixed on him at the heated question. The proximity between them abruptly felt far too close, the boy’s throat well within reach of those clever hands. After a time he relented and leaned back, folding his arms across his chest.

    "Then it is not my Imperium Romanum they are looking toward, if they claim to have found equality there."

    He allowed the subject to rest after this. He scoffed at the boy’s assessment of what he had been told, his hands unspooling from their cross against his chest to tap the surface of the table meaningfully.

    "Tu trouveras, if you live long enough, that they are much the same thing. I do not begrudge a demon his flames."

    Faintly, the creak of a door being opened drifted into the room. After a pause, it clicked close, just as soft and easy to ignore as the earlier thud had been. The vampire’s sightless gaze did not waver from his guest.

    "But enough of this - it grows tedious. I want to talk about you, and how you expect to fill your time in this house."

    He paused to consider his words and when he resumed, they rolled carefully from his mouth.

    “As though my dove is not bad enough, clotting the air with that wretched brew she insists is médicine, now you are filling my rooms with smoke. I know you did not bring them with you, so I would be very interested to know where you found the cigarettes.” He tilted his head to the side in a gesture of exaggerated curiosity, long strands of white hair falling over his shoulders.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:34 pm


    Fabien flinched at the abrupt change in the vampire’s tone. He at once felt coldness spread out from within the centre of his chest, and the inner workings of his body clenched unpleasantly. The boy almost recoiled into the back of his seat, as though he might push his chair back, and scrape the wooden legs over the floor. While he managed to control such a frantic display, his fingers were suddenly quietly anxious, full of agitation and movement. He appeared like a child who had recently toyed with a candle flame, only to be burnt.

    It took him a moment to produce an answer, and when it came it was small and shaken.

    “Mais n-non, Monsieur.” He breathed, refusing to meet his host’s eyes.

    “Not you and I. The rich, the poor, you know? The living.”

    The urchin continued to draw his spine firmly into back into the chair. He raised a leg as before, and hooked an arm about the knee to press its weight into his chest. From then on, the youth kept his eyes low, his attention still rooted firmly on the lamp. One finger continued to follow the line of the smooth handle.

    The urchin lapsed in quiet for a time, until the vampire’s words caused the boy’s smooth brow to pinch in confusion. He slowly raised his sharp eyes, and dared to steal a brief glance of his host’s expression.

    “What would you have me do, Monsieur? I would be pleased to have some purpose here.” His voice was but a gentle murmur, now suitably refashioned back into a respectful softness. There was something vaguely apologetic in it.

    The second question caused the boy’s breath to catch in his throat. He was aware of it suddenly, the way the sweet scent of tobacco probably lingered on his hair, his clothes. Without sparing too much time, the boy produced an answer. His manner was perfectly care-free, and the words were not marred by a single fleck of hesitation.

    “I found them in these clothes you gave me, in a pocket.” He confessed lightly.

    “Was it bad of me to keep them? I can fetch for you the case.”

    The boy paused before he continued, and when he spoke again his word were dusted with a disappointed sigh.

    “Though I would be sad to give them up. And if you will let me open a window, it would not be so bad.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:42 pm

    At Fabien’s fearful answer the tension that had grown taut between them loosened like a snapped tendon. The vampire settled back in his seat with an air of satisfaction that glimmered like motes of dust in the glint of his toothed smile.

    “Bien,” he said, the word a purr on his tongue. “I would not want you to harbor any illusions as to that.”

    Despite the pleasure warming his tone there was something calculating in his face as he listened to his guest’s explanation, some thin thread of sharp attentiveness in his eyes that had not been there before. When the boy had finished, the pale sliver of those eyes disappeared beneath his dark eyelids. They sat together in silence. The candle sputtered from within its ribcage of tin, pulsing like a fragile heartbeat.

    When the vampire’s eyes opened they glowed like an animal’s.

    “I am disappointed to hear it,” he said, so softly the boy would have to hold his breath to hear him clearly. “That was unusually careless of Colombe. I will have to remind her of the importance of care in all things, non?” His eyes flashed with pinpricks of cold silver light.

    “You may keep them,” he said, regaining his usual tone like snarled velvet. “Si ça te fait plaisir. As I said, you are welcome to all the possessions in that room. Only mind that it does not become a nuisance.”

    He laced his long fingers together in front of him. His blind gaze had drifted once more, gone vague as he contemplated.

    “As for your purpose here... well, there is much to be done. I imagine you are not familiar with many of the particulars of a house such as this, and it would be good for you to become acquainted with them. The girl has many tasks that I am sure it would please her to have assistance with. I will not remind you of what will happen should you step foot outside these walls—“ He spared the boy a blighted glance as though assured these details were still burned fresh in his memory. “—but there is still much to keep you from being idle.” He considered a moment before adding, “There will be more, soon. But you are still recovering. When I am less in doubt of your health we will talk again. Comprenez vous?"
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:04 am

    Fabien’s unease seemed only to worsen as the silence between them stretched on.  Soon the urchin’s narrow shoulders were as tense as polished stone, and every part of his young body appeared to clench into itself like as fist. He continued to avoid his host’s eyes, until something in his words affected a change in his manner. Suddenly the boy’s spine was arrow straight, and his fingers were lost within his hair.

    Attendez.”  He breathed sharply, working his hand over his scalp, as his thigh  jittered upon the seat of his chair.

    “Monsieur, in truth... I did not find them in these clothes. It is not her fault.” He protested anxiously, and lodged his fingers deeper into the tangled web of golden hair. “I asked Colombe if there were any, in this house. You do not need to be angry with her. She has been so good to me.”

    The poor, exhausted creature appeared a portrait of distress. The suggestion was almost too much to bear, the thought of any further suffering, especially on his account.

    “If it is your wish, I would be happy to help her.” The boy continued, though there something distant and melancholy had begun to creep into his voice. It seemed as if the full weight of his confinement had begun to settle upon his carefree spirit. Perhaps he had assumed that his host would not be quite so firm, that he might have some chance to leave now and then. Or at least, he had hoped to obtain some better understanding of why he must not. He lapsed into quiet as his host spoke, only answering him when bid to.

    “Oui, Monsieur. I would like that.” The urchin agreed softly, plucking at the fabric near one bony ankle. The light from Colombe’s lantern tenderly lifted his dejected silhouette, and cast it up and over the far wall.  

    The boy paused for a moment, examining the pale bruises that still marred his wrist.  He eased his hand down from his hair, following the smooth slope of his neck until he found the place where his skin had been punctured. He had not considered the wound until then, perhaps because he had not been able to look upon in it. And it occurred to him also, that he had not really paid mind to his health, not since he had woken in the room he now must call home. He pressed the skin there, feeling the dull ache of torn flesh which had still not fully healed.

    “Can I ask you Monsieur, if you mean to take my blood again?”
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:37 pm

    Fabien’s confession affected a profound change over the vampire. His long fingers unlaced with a twitch and he placed both palms flat on the wood of the table. He fell still, possessed by that deathly immobility that fell over him like a death-shroud and reminded all present of the corpse he was. The seconds sharpened into painful splinters.

    “She has been good to you,” he agreed lightly. His chest hardly moved as he spoke. “Far better than she need be. I am astonished, after all you have seen here, that you would put her in harm’s way with a lie.

    He did not sound astonished; the vampire’s voice was hot with ire. He spat the last word as though it were too vile to remain on his tongue. There was hardly a pause before he continued, anger crackling in the spaces between his words.

    “Do you wish to avoid it? Would you prefer I not split your throat again?”

    His voice had not risen. It remained low, deep, stretched taut with a terrible strain. His hands were tense on the table as though he sought to indent the wood with his fingertips.

    “Then I would not suggest lying to me again,” he said with a sharp snap of teeth. He stood so suddenly that his chair tipped back and clattered loudly to the floor and the candle in the boy’s lantern was extinguished with a sorrowful sputter. The room seemed to grow colder in its absence. The shadows pressed in as though to drown them both, the long-forgotten lamp burning so low as to be useless. It was easy to remember now that it was night, that the house was swaddled inside and out with black, and that their tête-à-tête had taken place by tenuous candlelight because the last of the sun had burned away hours ago.

    “That is all,” he said, his face impossible to read in the gloom. Anger blackened his words but they were whole in his mouth, without a tremble. It was a clear dismissal.

    It was difficult to follow his progress in the dark; his passage was less seen and more felt as a movement of shadow, a stirring of black in black.

    “And Fabien—“ The soft voice came from the doorway where his host had evidently paused. He let out his breath in a sigh. “Tread carefully. I do not wish to hurt you.”

    And then he was gone and the boy was alone in the dark room. The shadows fawned at his feet as though mourning their master.
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:47 pm

    The vampire’s anger ripped Fabien’s voice clean out of his throat. The boy was initially slow the react to the sudden change in his host’s mood, to his stillness, and the hardness in his tone. But when it was evident he had caused the vampire displeasure, the boy’s eyes became wide and his youthful lips parted.

    “Non, non I- I didn’t mean...” He rasped gently, before the abruptness of the vampire’s movements stunned him back into silence.

    The sound of the chair connecting with the floor turned the blood in the boy’s veins to ice water. He startled like a wild hare, and found his feet with such swiftness he gracelessly caught his hip against the side of the table.  Despite the sharp bite of pain that sparked through his body, the urchin pressed his weight into the wooden edge with impossible firmness.

    “I’m... I’m sorry, Monsieur.” He croaked, and his youthful expression turning pained as the vampire made to leave.

    “O-oui, Monsieur.” Gradually the boy’s voice had become bruised. It was almost as though he might suddenly step forward, and beg the vampire not to leave him alone there.

    But no protests came, no pleading. Instead he found himself abandoned to the kitchen.
    At once the urchin expelled a shuddery hiss of breath. Then in sudden recollection, he turned to face the table and seize the lantern. The object was rolled over between his thin hands, rattled in dismay, and tenderly prodded as though he hoped the wick might spark back into life. When his efforts proved futile, the urchin pressed a palm to his brow and sighed.

    Having abandoned the idea of obtaining fresh light, he dared to edge towards the door. In this he managed a few hesitant footsteps, following the rough path the vampire had taken just moments before. But it took only one glance back into the impenetrable blackness of hall to crush his plans.

    He quickly became resigned to his fate. He was trapped in that dark kitchen with its unfamiliar walls. The thought alone caused sadness to tighten at the back of his throat, and the boy clenched his teeth together and shook his head resolutely.  His breath was a nervous, ragged pant in the darkness.

    “Non. Arrêtez.”

    He could feel hunger gnawing away at the pit his stomach, and tenderly pressed a hand into the deep hollow beneath his ribs. The boy slipped his thumbs beneath the lantern, still warm from the flame, and lifted it to his chest. Then step by step he moved to the centre of the kitchen, and claimed some sparse patch of floor. There the youth curled up like an abandoned waif, his body coiled like a snake around the lamp. One arm slipped beneath his head, so that he might obtain some comfort from the harsh floor.  

    If he could not leave, he would kill his hunger and sadness with sleep. He would rest here until the sunlight returned, breaking in through the cracks around the windows.

    The urchin flexed his fingers in the darkness, conjuring nothingness, as his mind slipped back to warmer, happier memories.

    Mesdames et messieurs, je vous souhaite la bienvenue...” He whispered huskily, his voice lit with inviting warmth.

    It did not take long for sleep to find him.
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:49 pm

    Silence descended upon the house like a flock of carrion birds. Wherever the vampire had disappeared to, he did so without so much as a breath of noise. A sudden gust of wind caused the house to groan as it settled on its foundation and drew a flurry of agitated whispers from the copse of trees outside. It quickly faded to be replaced once more with the ominous calm.

    It was several hours until the last occupant of the household returned inside. The door clicked quietly behind her and her footsteps were slow and quiet in the corridor. She bore no light now – Colombe made her way in the thick gloom carefully, from memory, one hand occasionally brushing against walls and furniture to help guide her.

    She hadn’t gotten more than two steps in the kitchen before her foot connected unexpectedly with something soft that gave way beneath it. It was unpleasantly like stepping on a dog. She silently started back and put a hand out for the wall to peer anxiously down at the floor. Her eyes were wide and not so white as they had been. They’d been tarnished with grief and fatigue and were a glassy grey. The ends of her sleeves had been stained in a similar manner, although their patina was of blood and earth.

    Confusion wrinkled her brow when she identified Fabien in the dark. However, she did not spend much time puzzling over it; she accepted the oddity with a certain weary grace that one imagined had served her well given her master’s proclivities, and stepped over the urchin on the kitchen floor without an apology for having delivered him a sharp kick in the ribs. Her usual scent had largely faded and now she smelled of cold night air and wet earth when she passed.

    There was a sloshing of liquid as she retrieved a heavy basin with minimal fumbling. Without pause, she stripped off her dirty cotton dress until she was in nothing but leather stays and a white shift, evidently comfortable that she was sufficiently concealed in the dark – or perhaps just indifferent to the guest’s views on the matter. Her silhouette was grey in the gloom, the lack of light sapping the colour and turning them both to ghosts. The water gurgled softly as she washed the grime of blood and dirt from her hands and arms. When they were tolerably clean she splashed her face and fumbled for a cloth with water dripping from the hair that framed her forehead.

    She had not quite finished drying her face when she swayed suddenly on her feet. She caught herself on a shelf and stood in silence, her hand on the edge of the basin still holding the rag and her shoulders hunched. She did not turn around to face the boy and he could not see the silent tears that pricked her eyes against her will. She sniffed once, softly, and straightened.
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:39 am

    In the time between the vampire’s departure and Colombe’s return, Fabien had sunk hungrily into the deepest depths of sleep. The sound of his heavy breaths filled the quiet kitchen, and the girl’s soft entrance did nothing to disturb the sleeping urchin. In truth, he had not slept so soundly since the first night he had spent under this roof. And it was only the sharp jab to his chest which hauled him back, and caused him to cry out in terror.

    The boy’s arms shot out defensively, and the sharp jut of his elbow sent the lantern clattering upon its side. He remained gasping in the dark for some time, until he was able to decipher the shape of the girl in the shadows. Now fully awake, his entire body began to angrily protest at once. He cursed his time spent on the hard floor, which had bled cold and stiffness into every part of his young body. With a groan and a hiss he pushed himself upright, and caressed the skin where the girl’s foot had landed.

    It was the sound of water stirring which caused the urchin to lift his head, and he searched for the girl once more. The shadowy kitchen made this no easy task, but he could make out the movements of her arms, and hear sound of water falling through her fingers. The boy’s features began to soften, until he bestowed a strange look upon her. It was not one of pity, nor of sorrow, but a kind of tranquillity illuminated his heavy-lidded gaze. It was as though he found her actions somewhat comforting, that they offered some return to normalcy after so much horror.

    The boy continued to observe the girl in silence, until the sharp sway of her body caused him to swiftly find his feet.

    Colombe? Are you -...?” A thread of concern wove its way through his voice, and materialised in the anxious twitch of his fingers. The question he had attempted remained unfinished. He did not ask about her task. He did not ask about the dead boy, he likely never would again.

    Instead, the urchin lowered his eyes to the floor, and caught his lower lip between his teeth. He eventually broke the quiet between them, as though he could not bear to allow it linger.

    “I could not find my way back, without your light.” He murmured, and bent down to hook the handle of the lantern in his fingers, before it was hoisted up and held firm to his chest. “Though I think now I would rather stay here.”

    The youth lingered behind her like a hungry mongrel seeking scraps, and shifted his weight tentatively from foot to foot. He filled what silence emerged between them with a seemingly endless string of soft words.

    “I do not like that room, Colombe. I do not... feel right there.”

    “Back home, it-“The boy’s words caught at the back of his throat as he became aware of how painfully homesick he felt. And how wretched it was to mention and be reminded of hovel he had occupied, the filthy scrap of a mattress that belonged to him. He swallowed thickly, and attempted to eliminate the pangs of unhappiness that had begun to bleed into his words. “There was always such noise, you know? I used to hate it. I would try to practise, try to sleep and-“

    He allowed a quivering breath of air to escape from between his teeth.

    “But now, I cannot even hear the sounds of the streets.”

    The boy broke off, and swept his words aside with his long fingers as if they were a wisp of smoke. “Ah, je suis désolé. I am tired, I ramble.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Tariq on Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:33 pm

    Colombe finished drying her face in silence. Her shoulders stiffened at the boy’s concerned inquiry and when he broke it off she turned to face him, the cloth held tightly in her fist.

    The edges of her silhouette were blurry in the dark, her eyes black hollows in the shadow-dappled circle of her face. She listened in weary silence.

    His apology drew her close and she stepped forward with a quiet step. There was little softness in her exhausted gaze and for a time it seemed her reserves of compassion had reached its dregs. After a moment she fumbled for his hand in the dark and, should he not pull it away, tugged at him to follow.

    Carefully, with her guttersnipe in tow, she cut past the brick hearth of the dark kitchen and to a pantry door that scraped against the floor when she opened it, low on its hinges. The tight space reeked of the onions strung from its shelves. She ignored the sundry food items in favour of a slight passage at the back which led to a staircase that creaked beneath their feet. It was so narrow that they had to turn their shoulders to fit comfortably, the girl’s warm hand still in his. In the dark, he would not see the rosary nailed to the low ceiling just above their heads.

    Another door groaned open at the girl’s touch. It was easier to discern the shape of objects in the room they entered for the silvered light of the moon streaming in the uncovered windows. It was a small space, dominated by a bed hardly elevated above the floor. One wall came in at a steep angle that compressed the room and made it feel smaller than it really was. Objects hung on the walls in a jumble that was impossible to discern in the dark. The smell of whatever salve it was she insisted on clung to the walls as though this is where it originated from.

    Colombe released Fabien’s hand when they reached the top of the stairs and moved away, her shape gilded in silver. She bent down to reach beneath the bed and rummaged for a few moments before coming away with a bundle of fabric. Briskly, she unfolded a thick blanket on the floor in a corner at the head of the bed as though preparing a picnic. She placed the second folded blanket onto the first and examined her handiwork in silence. With a jolt as though it had occurred to her suddenly, she plucked a firm pillow from the bed and dropped it to the floor as well.

    Satisfied, she prodded the boy in the back toward the makeshift bed that, if nothing else, was a great deal more comfortable than the kitchen floor. Once he seemed to catch on to her plan, the girl busied herself with the undoing of her stays and clambered into bed with bare feet and in nothing but her plain shift, evidently relishing the notion of sleep far too greatly to bother with any further nighttime preparations.

    It was only once they had settled into their respective nests and silence unfurled that the boy would discover that the small windows were cracked and the sounds of the night – the distant clop of a lone horse’s hooves, the call and answer of a mournful night-bird, and the inescapable whispers of the fretting trees – wafted into the room with the cool night air.
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    Re: ** Interlude 2 - Like the stars in the sky separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing upon each other.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:17 pm

    Fabien stumbled awkwardly behind the girl, unable to neither feel his way nor correct his balance with the lantern tucked firmly under the crook of his arm. He had initially clung softly to Colombe’s hand, hesitantly following her with a nervousness she’d likely become accustomed to. But as he was led through the dark and narrow passageway, down into what felt like the depths of the house, the boy’s grip grew firm.

    “Where are we--?” He began to murmur, but then bit down upon his words as his caught knee on a dark lump of something indistinguishable. His uneasy tread was further interrupted when the boy scuffed the top of his skull upon the low ceiling, and he released a pained hiss of breath.

    His troublesome journey did little to dampen his spirit. When they reached the girl’s room, when she released his hand, the urchin’s storm grey eyes moved around the small space with bright curiosity.  He examined what he could, and struggled to blink into better clarity the objects which littered her walls. He wanted to examine every corner of it, to ask her everything about her life in this house, under the vampire’s rule. But as he took a step closer to watch the girl prepare a space for him on the floor, his eyes darkened with sadness.

    The vampire’s words slithered back into his mind, of what harm he might have brought to her. The thought caused his entire body to shudder in displeasure, and the boy swallowed stiffly and sought to divert his attention from it.

    When she had slipped into her bed, the urchin dropped to his sharp knees and let his body sink onto the floor.  He curled happily into the blankets and pillows she had provided for him, all of which were bathed in the strange scent of the girl’s room. It had grown to be a familiar smell to him, as comforting as her presence in the dark. He pressed his nose into the fabric like a loyal hound, his entire body aching for company. Merely being there nestled at her side caused a wave of blissful relief to surge through him.

    “Merci” he rasped softly, his voice rich with gratitude.  

    The boy released a shuddery sigh, and the muscle of his body grew lax and began to soften. He glanced over at the girl’s small shape in the darkness, as his ears soaked up the sounds of life and activity from beyond the walls of this house.

    “I am glad of you, Colombe. That you are here with me.”

    It was little more than whisper. It was almost as if he did not intend for her to hear it, so softly was it spoken. And after it, came silence, he had no desire to disturb her further. So soon the urchin had crept back into sleep, his fingers still affectionately curled about the lantern.

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